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The Pursuit of Beauty

I'm M.C.A. Hogarth, author and artist. I write fiction (science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc), nonfiction (mostly about business and parenthood) and draw pictures, mostly of dragons, elves and people in beautiful clothes. I am also currently (as of July 2015) serving as the Vice President of SFWA. Below you can see some of what I'm doing currently, and check up on my status.

     Kickstarter: Nothing planned until 2016!
     Patreon (mcahogarth): Get a la carte short fiction, audiobook segments, coloring book sheets, and whatever else I feel like offering up to people who are tipping me!

     Where do I start? Check my recommendations here, with links!
     Latest Releases: You can use my book launch tag to see what was most recently published.
     Newsletter: Here's my newsletter, which you can join for for news and special offers!

     Latest Sale: Originals are for sale here. My Zazzle store offers prints, mugs, shirts, bags and such! Otherwise you can keep up on my offers on Livejournal through my "sale" tag.
     Archive: If you have a lot of spare time and haven't browsed it yet, I have over 3000 images available on my old website, sketches, paintings and comics.
     Deviantart: I also have a DA account at user mcah.

     The Nebula Awards Weekend 2016
     Worldcon 2016

Balance Card 5-Card Readings: Not Available
Balance Card Keepsake Paintings: Not Available
Commissions: Not taking them.
Illustration projects: Not taking them.

Fan Fiction Policy
Explained here.

Typo Reports
If you find typo or formatting errors in my books, please report them here.

P.O. Box
Email me for my address, if you'd like to request materials or send a tip or donation.

Please keep your language PG-13 and your icons work-safe while visiting. Thank you!
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It is inevitable that the cookies fatcook left out do their work. I am working on candy color sketches when I look up and find Ajan snitching one. Pointing my pencil at him, I say, "Hey! No drive-by cookie kidnapping!"

Either he gets what I mean by context or, like Shame, he's been ingesting too much of our popular culture, because he pads closer with a grin. "I didn't intend to! I came to talk to you. And also to sneak the cookies." He takes a bite, beaming, then says, "Oh, these must be from the bashendari aunerai! They have her mark!" He leans past me and waves at all of you. "HEY, OBIJZI! SO GOOD! THANK YOU! ALSO SHE NEVER MAKES US YOUR STICKY RICE ANYMORE AND IT IS SO SAD!"

"Ah!" Vekken says from the door, rubbing an ear. "You don't have to yell, toni." That comes through pretty clearly: "apprentice," or "person I'm teaching/have taught" or "kid" or all those things. And bashendari, 'person who makes food nourishing', I remember easily. But as Vekken tries one of the cookies himself, I frown at the one thing I don't get.

"What's obijzi?"

"Obijzi!" Ajan says, perching on the windowsill. "That's 'padded'!"

"Padded," I repeat, bewildered. "Like a cushion?"

"Yes," he says. "But for people."

"Oh!" I say. And frown, because I have yet to see a plump Ai-Naidari.

Seeing my confusion, Vekken chuckles. "That means there's a coat of fat beneath the skin/fur. It's a good thing. It makes people softer, makes them more pleasant to touch. Helps prevent injuries too."

Ajan nods. "'Soft' is an all right translation too. But I like padded better. But you can't use obijzi for inanimate objects, qiqirini. It's only for people."

Intrigued, I say, "What's the opposite?" Thinking of Shame, I offer the word for 'puts on bulk', "Ienul?"

"No, ienul describes... how you fill out," Ajan says, gesturing around his chest to indicate a possible frame. Little crumbs fall from the cookie's bitten edges. "Or that you can fill out. Most of us can't get that big... it's not in us. You want holin, 'muscled.'"

"Or yiq," Vekken says. "That's when you've got neither muscle nor fat under your skin. The elderly are like that. Or some kinds of people are just born that way. Frail. Bony."

"Delicate?" I say.

"No," Ajan says. "Delicate... Haraa is delicate. There's strength there, under the pelt. Yiq is... thin. Like Farren. Farren is too thin." He shakes his head. "I worry about him sometimes."

"He'll be fine," Vekken says, unconcerned. To me, he continues, "We put stock in what people have under their fur."

"But we prefer them to be padded," Ajan says. "It makes hugging them easier!"

I laugh. "Padded, but not muscled, ah?"

"Muscle is for Guardians," Ajan says loftily. And adds, "Well, and Land-workers." He grins and finishes the cookie. "So, I'm here! But I didn't come to talk about muscle and fat!"

"Oh no?" I ask, setting down my pencil. "This should be good."

"It will be!" he promises, and reaches over me to take up my pencil. "We are going to talk about stick figure art!"


My overhaul of the Patreon page yesterday was... deeply motivating?? Because we are only $17 short of our $500 goal...! O_O I'm planning a schedule of stuff for us (including when the serial's going to commence), but since people are already paying for things like extras, I figure... let's have some extras! And I guessed at the one fatcook would want for her donation. *grin*

I am so excite at how this is shaping up, you all! You are the bestest. :D

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Current Mood: working working
Current Music: Guster - Satellite

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First... the candy color art Kickstarter is launching Wednesday! Our goal is $300 in 10 days, and any overage is going toward the unexpected bill I had to pay earlier this month. Here's the preview, check it out! Low level rewards include the wallpaper, postcards, and candy color jaguar coloring pages.


Next! In anticipation of making Kherishdar a going concern, I have completely overhauled the Patreon page! In particular, the 'why I'm on Patreon' (which you'll probably have to click to expose), the goals, and the rewards. And the banner. And the latest post. Just, well, everything. Please check it out here!

My goal is to get the Patreon up over $1000 a month. I'll need your help for that, because word-spreading is how Kherishdar gets fans. I'm going to write a 'why you should come visit Kherishdar with everyone who loves it' post later, and then you all can go to town sharing it... probably sometime next week. :)


I am almost done with my 'retool the Three Jaguars' initiative. (Or at least, its trial run.) So hopefully news about that soon. I mostly say this here to 1. get people interested, and 2. remind me to finish up the last couple of bits of work for it, which fell off my radar when Plague.


Finally, I'm finally on the mend, so stuff I haven't had the chance to do yet is finally getting done. And I am looking ahead to the future. Losing five days' worth of Day Hobby pay to being sick is going to inevitably bring up the "is this extra job a good use of your time" discussion again, and while I'm nervous everything seems to be pointing to 'not in the long-term, and maybe not in the short, short term either.' Given that, I am planning my exit (see: getting the Patreon more productive).

I admit, also, paying almost $500 for my yearly university parking tag also made me start thinking about the cost of working that second job. I buy clothes specifically for that job. I drive pretty far for it. I dunno. I wonder if I'm fooling myself about this one because I'm afraid of finally pulling the trigger. Probably! :,

Anyway. That's where we're at today! *rolls shoulders* We are goin' places, y'all and me. I am excite!

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Current Mood: determined
Current Music: Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body

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It is Day Seven of my illness and I am exhausted but on the mend. Lying on the floor, I feel the fatigue in every joint... but my mind is ranging backward, to Day 1 and 2, when the fevers were bad and my flesh was too hot for my skin. I am remembering the discomfort, the weirdling disassociation... the hours of staring at the ceiling, not seeing it. So many dreams, wreathed in inescapable heat, all of them astonishing. I smooth a hand down my side, feeling the coolth of the skin there. I am tired, and I am not alone.

"So," Shame says from where he is sitting at the windowseat. "Now you know."

"Yes," I say, not believing it still. "Now I know."

In the silence that follows, I analyze his voice. He speaks as Shame, because it allows no denial. But there is also Kor in it, because the subject is personal. No resignation. No triumph. We are sharing something. We are both struck by it, maybe.

And he hasn't spoken again, so I say, "Aren't you going to ask me what I'm going to do?"

That makes him laugh, the full, easy laugh that all his family so loves to hear. "Qiqirini," he says, and I ignore the goosebumps on my upper arms now that I know a little better the nuance of this word, "you are an artist."

"I guess it's a ridiculous question," I admit. "But I haven't written everything I've recognized in my head as a story."

"You will write this one."

"Yes," I say, and I believe it this time. "I will." And then, a little plaintive, "I had no idea."

"Qirini," he says, "Neither did I."

We are quiet again. The Ai-Naidar are easy company, and know the value of companionable silences... and I am tired, and feeling the pulse in this no longer quite so afflicted body, and thinking about chosen family, and assumptions, and choices, and family again. Qirini, 'sister,' and qiqirini, 'little sister.'

I say, into that quiet, "I will have to start soon. I have missed my community." He smiles at me over the book he has set in his lap. I laugh. "Yes, even I can learn."

"One learns at the pace one is capable of, and no shame attaches to the speed." His eyes have a touch of merriment, but that smile is a little too self-aware. "As I have cause to know, for more than one reason."

"Yes," I say. "I don't know why it's taken me four years and two days of fever to finally understand why Four Tales wasn't coming together, Shame, and you're about to tell me it doesn't matter, except how it affects what I do next, so... " I draw in a breath and nod. "I'm coming home. And I'm bringing all of us with me."

He sets the book down and studies me. And says, only, solemn: "Very good, qirini."

After he's gone, I turn slowly onto my side, waiting for the cough to subside before I reach for the notebook next to me. With a bright blue pen, I cross out the title on the top, drawing the line deliberately through each word: Four - Tales - of - the - Tryst

Then, under it, in bold letters, I scrawl the real title of Book 4.


Nesthae, something in me whispers. I tuck my head onto my folded hands and close my eyes. Soon, I promise, and this is a promise I make to you, all of you who have waited with me for so long. Soon, we're going home. And there will be a breaking, and a mending, and we will find our edges in it.

I promise.

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Current Mood: ...
Current Music: Paramore - The Only Exception

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I am still pretty addled and sleep-deprived, but this is a thing and I want it down before I forget it because it's an important thing. And also because I have Ai-Naidar living in my brain and they're probably responsible for this train of thought.

Like a lot of modern artists, I have lots of patrons and tippers. (Like a lot of modern netizens, I am also a patron and a tipper, too!) But a thing that concerns me a great deal is whether I am expressing my gratitude to them in a way they prefer. Lacking this information, I default usually to treating people the way I like to be treated, which is thus: when I tip or patronize, I don't want thanks. I'm flattered when I receive it, but I'm not seeking it when I hit the button. In my head, my tip is the thank-you, and it's a response to something the artist has already done. Being thanked for thanking someone is nice, but what I really want is to have said the thank-you, and to see that the artist continues to be a going concern.

So, by most standards, I'm a very reserved sort of giver in almost every situation. (There are some situations and some artists where that mode changes, but it's rare.)

However, I'm aware that my way of doing these things isn't the only way. There are people who are happy to get a generic shout-out ("Thanks to my patrons this week! You all bought my coffee!") but they do want that shout-out. There are people who want to be thanked individually—but privately. There are people who want to be called out individually, but publicly. There's even a difference based on why people are tipping (some tip only to receive something specific, some do it randomly). There are a billion permutations, I think. ("I don't need personal thanks, but I'd love to see you talk about the art supplies I helped you buy online!")

All these modes are totally okay! But (as the aliens in my head have observed) we haven't classified people based on what kind of behavior they expect in response to patronage, and because of that, people like me can't be sure our patrons know how much we value them. We want to treat each other right, because that's how we keep the ecosystem healthy.

Here's where I turn to you all, then. Can we come up with some labels that would help artists know what kind of thank-yous people want? So you can hit the tip button and add in your little comment box, "Love your work! I'm a LURKER, so don't mention me!" or "That was a great post! I'm a PUBLIC PATRON! Here's the name I like to be known as!" We could probably start by analyzing our own thank-you/giving behaviors, our preferences, and then other people can say "Oh hey, I'm like that too!" Once we get some broad categories, we can noodle with terms.

It is totally okay if these are labels we only use amongst ourselves, in Candy Color Jaguar Universe, so if you want to make them specific to me that's great. But I don't mind sharing, since it will help everyone, artist and patron alike. I hate the thought that some artist is feeling a vague, nagging guilt because I gave them $5 and they haven't sent me a personal email for it. I get enough email! Just get a cup of coffee!

What isn't named is often hard to wrap your head around. Let's brainstorm, then, and see if we can get some clarity!

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Day Feels-Like-Sixty-Million-But-Actually-Six. Still whiny and sick. Pity my household, they have to put up with me staggering around like an afghan-wrapped zombie, clutching tissues and mumbling about when my coughing-inspired abs of steel are going to show up. I have just enough concentration to color, but none to do anything new. And stringing thoughts together beyond a paragraph is hard, so no serious writing either.

*official whinnne*

But color I can do! So I brought my goopy-eyed congested head back to the desk.

(Amusingly, a friend sent me money for WoW because seeing me working concerned them that I was overdoing it instead of resting. But WoW can only be played at my standing desk, while I can paint sitting down, so... painting is actually more restful than gameplaying! *hugs friend* The thought mattered! I love you! You are the bestest.)

Oh, remind me, later, tomorrow, sometime, we have to talk about establishing NAMES for people based on the kind of thanks they like. This is important.

Ugh, why can't I concentrate. Anyway. SPOTS! TIME TO APPLY SPOTS!

2016-07-22 11.45.06.jpg

After this, no more progress pics because it was so close to done I forgot to take pictures. Also, because tired/listless? But I did finish it, and here it is in all its candy-color magnificence!

Are your eyes melting yet? The sensation passes, I promise! *beams*

But then, the joke was on me!

Bwahahaha! My scanner says, "NOPE NOPE ALL THE NO." Look at that mess. It has no idea what to make of it.

Lostreach over on Twitter said, "Hey, do you have a good camera and an overcast day?" And I thought, "I have a big camera!" And then my spouse's like, 'that old thing? your new iphone is a better camera than that.' And then I remembered I'm horrible with cameras and don't really like messing with them and have no lighting set-up, etc. I did the reasonable thing and looked up local photographers who specialize in fine art photography, and lo! I found one in the Fancy Part of Town. For $65, they will photograph the thing and color correct it for me—LOL. They have no idea what they're getting into. POOR PEOPLES. CANDY COLOR JAGUAR IS COMING FOR JUUUUU!

The jaguar. She brings the EYEBURN.

This brings me to the Kickstarter! I made a list of the stuff that I want it to pay for.

I call this "Still Life, with Cough Drops." Yes, sadly, I arranged it on purpose. -_-

So, some of this list is to get the printer working again, because the printer is how I get my sketches onto paper I can paint on, and it's time to start putting these acrylics to the real test. Some of it is paint-related. And some of it is (lol) related to photographing the picture I painted because I thought it would be a good prize for the Kickstarter when turned into phone wallpaper, except I didn't realize it was going to cost me so much to get it reproduced. I AM SCHOOLED. But amused. It's all good. |)

After totaling those things up and then adding taxes, processing fees, etc, etc, I think I'll be asking for around $300. This seems do-able! If we go over, I can start paying into that Sudden Large Expense that depleted my account so completely a week and a half ago, which... I really need done.

Anyway. It is now time to solicit your advice! Prizes for this Kickstarter! What do y'all want?

Oh Lord, I can't wait until I can think straight again. No, Lola, I will not draw Lisinthir and Jahir in neon leather. BUT NOW THAT IMAGE IS STUCK IN MY HEAD.

Prizes! For serious! Um, not neon Eldritch. >.>

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Current Mood: loopy

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So the flavor of the month sickness around here is a viral upper respiratory infection and after resisting it mightily from two people at the university, and then Daughter, and then Spouse, I finally succumbed Sunday night, and by Monday I was working on a 102-degree fever and a throat so sore I couldn't talk. The doctor at the walk-in-clinic sent me home with four medications (!!), three of which I immediately decided were useless and one which looked helpful: an anti-histamine/decongestant/expectorant cough syrup that looked like it would keep the thing from settling in my lungs. Boy howdy, was I right. I haven't stopped coughing since I started taking this stuff, but my fever broke and by Tuesday I was miserable and exhausted and sore (ow, ow, coughing all the time) but I wasn't getting sicker. This morning, other than the exhaustion and the constant coughing, I would have felt much, much better... except a feature of this particular flavor of the month is conjunctivitis. In both eyes.

Folks, pinkeye is gross. And mortifying. And it hurts. I want to claw my eyeballs out. Also, it is super-contagious, which means I did everything I could to minimize all contact with other human beings.

So I am tired. And mopey. And I keep going to the bathroom to wash my eyes, which isn't really helping anything. Standing at the computer is exhausting because I haven't slept well in four days. But painting I can do sitting down, and it's not very strenuous.

And also, the fluorescent paint arrived.

HOW DID I LIVE WITHOUT FLUORESCENT PAINT. I NEVER KNEW. It BURNS your RETINAS. While using it, I couldn't tell if my eyes were watering because I was sick or because the colors were making my vision lose focus. It was glorious. This is exactly the palette this piece needed. Only fluorescent paint has the power to depict the full experience of SparkleJaguar and Cub.

Have I made it clear yet how much I like this stuff? >.>

Anyway. So today I sat down most of the day and quietly painted, and that kept me from rushing to the bathroom every few minutes to stare in horror at the GRIMY WINDOWS of my SOUL. And I took lots of photographs and posted them to twitter where, unlike in real life, I could communicate with people without stopping every other word to cough. (This is not hyperbole. It's supremely embarrassing.)

Child, of course, must also be fluorescent. In this case, fluorescent orange-yellow, as opposed to Mommy's outrageously (truly, truly outrageously) gaudy fluorescent orange and fluorescent red. (Did any of you get that reference? We are old. But in a cool, oldskool way. The music's contagious!)

Here I thought, 'Hmm, I should start the background.' Some things went through my mind while doing this:

1. These "for fun/experimental" pieces are pieces I'm not doing much formal work on. But I regretted not masking the foreground and painting the background first, because getting the brush around all the fiddly bits was less fun than all the other stuff I was doing.

2. That for a smooth gradient, I really should have bought extender.

3. That I am too tired to buy extender right now, and too impatient, and also I can't really see straight Because Sick.

Some things I will think about when I take this painting thing seriously. I'm not yet!

This, then, was the plan for the background: a nice purple-to-light teal gradient that failed because the paint dried too quickly. But I figured 'I can fix that later' and moved on.

True fax: I do not actually have purple eyes. With anime sparkles. Science, what's wrong with you? Fix this! Keep in mind some of us can't wear contacts unless they're also corrective!

But hey, eye-bleeding colors! Now with shiny plastic nose and 80's-style eyeshadow!

It was about this point that ursulav weighed in:

And I thought "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS" and thought 'Obviously I must work this angle!'

Poor Ursula. The things I blame on her. >.>

Child also needs her bright coat of fur! Unlike me, Daughter is a little lionette (thus the poof tail). So no spots for her. I have something else planned to liven her up as a final touch.

Check out my palette. RAVER GHOSTS!

Also new to me: metallic paint! Well, not new. I've always loved metallic inks and markers, but never really bothered with paint. After all, you're supposed to render metal by carefully observing how it reflects light and colors around it and then painting that illusion!

But no, not here. The shiny smartphone with the pawpad back is ACTUAL METALLIC GOLD.

*pauses to move the paper back and forth and watch the sun glitter on it*

Awww, yiiiis.

When it came time to choose the color for the jaguar rosette runes, I had two notions: purple... or WILD. Looking at my one unused jar of fluorescent paint, I thought, "But I will disappoint Ursula if I do not make it FLUORESCENT CHARTREUSE."

And lo, it was so.

Even given the difficulty of photographing these colors, I think the eye-punch quality smashes through!

I mentioned being impatient about the background? So I gave up on the extender altogether and decided to go with the weaknesses of the medium. How could dozens of stars wreck this picture? Easy answer: THEY CAN'T. MORE STARS! MORE!

And here is where I stopped, because I want to consider some choices. And also because I'm still exhausted and my mom, having gone through the same upper respiratory infection last week, brought me her leftover eye drops and I fled for the bathroom and dosed myself and now I am walking in circles whining about it having to work faster because GRIMY SOUL WINDOWS UGH.

But for a long stretch today, I was quiet, and not moving much, and content, and not focused on how poorly I was doing. I "talked" with people and made them laugh without having to wreck my voice further or set off more coughing fits. And I got about 75% done with this piece.

That's a good day, y'all.

And here, as per Marketer Jaguar's requirements, are buttons. If seeing my updates during the day, or this post in particular, amused or delighted you, here is a way to buy me kleenex and cough drops. Hopefully I won't need them long and I can buy extender, because after all this it's time to start setting up to do book covers!


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Current Mood: woozy

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Just a note to say I have been inflicted with The Plague and am currently sleeping a lot and feeling sorry for myself while blearily awake. I have some packages due to be mailed and stuff I want to post/respond to, but it will have to wait. -_-

Healthier soon!


I am hunting for something I need, so I thought: why not ask! So here I am. I'd like to know some of your favorite poets!

Please note, my quest has parameters!

1. It should be a Western poet. (There's a good reason for this, promise.)
2. Their works should be in the public domain.
3. While I prefer them to be writing in English, if they're not, the translations must also be in the public domain.

If you'd like to link me to a particular poem of theirs that you like, that would be exciting. :D

So, hit me!

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I have been re-reading Kherishdar, and missing Kherishdar, and resigned to missing it, when rowyn says, "You worked on your WIP today! Now you should go play with the Kherishdar stuff."

And I think, Okay, and go, and it doesn't even occur to me what an Ai-Naidari thing it is to just trust a peer's opinion so completely on when you can stop guilting yourself. I pull up the lexicon and the orthography, pick a word and jot it down, and then cut one of my acrylic pages into a square. As I scribble on it and then splash it with gesso, I think with wonder how easy acrylics are. "You want to paint?" they say. "Come paint! We're ready!" Even the gesso dries quickly, and then it's time.

I sit with my brushes and I hear a voice behind me, and it's been so long I am startled.

"Your penmanship has improved."

The Calligrapher is looking at the jotted note, not the transfer I've drawn to paint. He touches it with a fingertip. "Time away has given you confidence."

"My pot has broken and broken and broken and broken," I say. "I am nothing left but pieces. Maybe there is more room for art then."

"In my experience," the Calligrapher says, "what there is, is more willingness to submit. When you give in, you allow much to flow through your fingers that you could not have wrought on your own."

I sigh a little and smile. "So, I paint."

He looks at the blueline and nods. "That is well done. Commence."

I start then, and this time I remember that colors are symbolic before I start working. For this word, "mercy," I choose Payne's Gray for at least three reasons—why have one reason when you can have layers of them?—and I start working, adding some Prussian Blue Dark to thin the paint out without lightening it. I work dark, because Shame is dark and Shame becomes Mercy as an elder priest. I use dark blue because it is relaxing, and mercy is a relief from suffering. And I choose it because the color is associated in my mind with an artist who deeply influenced me, but who died young, as so many of Shame's priests did, living too close to the edge.

I start mixing a flesh-peach-pink color for the background, because it is because we are imperfect beings trapped in flesh that we need mercy so badly. As I start working, I can hear the Calligrapher at my shoulder, can almost see his fingertip when he points out a particular brushstroke. "Well done. No, don't make it so even. The imperfections are part of if—yes, just like that. Look at that beautiful, uneven color, that reveals the redder stroke beneath the peach." Some part of me is astonished that I am taking instruction from a voice in my head. But he knows better than I do how the paint works, or maybe he just trusts it more. So I listen to him and trust it too.

"Beautiful," he says, when I have the ground laid down. "This is a strong work. It would be well-received among us."

This is startling praise. But I am not done. I like this piece as it is, but it doesn't feel like something an Ai-Naidari would make. For that I think it needs more ornament, so I try adding flowers (of course) in red. I am a little off-put by the results, but the Calligrapher smiles and says, "Continue. Be bold. And remember: no Ai-Naidari "went out of business" by over-ornamenting a piece."

'Went out of business' is a poor translation my head is receiving. I want to know what the real metaphor is but we're busy, so I keep going, and I keep going, and suddenly I'm done.

The Calligrapher sets a hand on my shoulder, which should startle me—the others have accepted me as family but I have not had a familial touch from Farren yet that I remember. But I don't find it surprising, because we have been making art, and this is a bond stronger than species. "You have put your time away to good use," he says. "That is art, Scribe."

"I never wanted to be away," I say softly.

Farren—definitely Farren now—smiles, looking at the ceiling, as if hearing someone else's voice. I know whose it is when he says, "Then don't be." And leaves me with the piece.

"Compassion in the face of weakness." Ashul.


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Current Mood: solemn
Current Music: Paramore - The Only Exception

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It wasn't until I started wading back through Livejournal, old file folders, and comments that I realized how much of the iceberg that is Kherishdar is underwater and needs to be put in one spot. I started doing that this morning in Evernote (Lord save me if Evernote ever dies), but the process of doing so made me realize... there are plenty of gaps!

If you want to know something about Kherishdar, or about the Ai-Naidar, or want more words, or want a question answered about something random, go ahead and ask now while I'm putting together the pieces! Maybe it will inspire more pieces to assemble. :)

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While hunting around for the graphics I used in the Black Blossom print edition—you do not want to see the mess of that particular set of folders—and chasing the extras I wrote for the Kickstarter out of dusty corners of the internet, I ran into this.

      Emma would have me tell you that this is my story. That, in fact, I should make it my story, and more about me than it is about anyone else. She would say, 'Hasn't everyone heard enough from the men of Kherishdar? What about the women? You deserve a voice!' And 'Why do you have to share the spotlight—' She had to explain that concept to me, aunera, '—with anyone else? You are important, too!'
      As if, in fact, I did not know my own importance, and my own insignificance.
      I like Emma. I imagine you will too, even seen through the lens of an Ai-Naidari eye. But she is what she is, and she is you: alien. Even after knowing me so long, she still doesn't understand here, in her heart, what it is to be Ai-Naidari. She understands in her head, you perceive, but the in the place where poetry is grasped, in the space between heart-beats that makes sense of a heart-beat, she still doesn't know, and never will. We are too different, you and I, aunera.
      And I am all right with that. Perhaps you know enough of Ai-Naidar to know what an extraordinary statement that is, and yet I make it.

      This, then, is not my story, any more than any story about an Ai-Naidari is about that Ai-Naidari. It is particularly not my story because it's also Farren's, and Kor's, and Ajan's, and Qevellen's. It's about Thirukedi and the Exception and all the Shames and Exceptions that have been. It is about Kherishdar, because there is no such thing as an Ai-Naidari outside the context of her society.
      And it is also, a little, about me, and the choice I made. But I am not aunerai, and I know that my choice was as much a result of other people's as it was of mine. There is no 'I' without 'we.'
      I think that may be what this story is about... to you. It is hard for me to know your minds, aunera, any more than you seem to be able to understand ours.

      So then. Here is our story. I will tell it, and Farren will, and Ajan, and whomever else believes it needs telling.
      Emma thinks it's about me.
      We'll see what you think, when it's done.

               —Haraa Nai'Qevellen-osulkedi


I want to read this book. Why isn't it done. Why doesn't the rest of the series sell better so I can justify writing it. Why, why why. >.>

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Plush Queen is prepared to take notes.

Unexpected expenses have reduced my business account to the lowest it's been in... four years? Like "Wow, I'd better not buy myself lunch or that next check will bounce" levels.

A moment of gratitude here, heartfelt, that it's been four years since that point. Wow.

But anyway. I've been dragging my heels on running a Kickstarter and now I'd better stop, because the expenses I had budgeted for end of July/beginning of August are not going to happen if I don't refill the kitty. And while selling via Etsy and pushing books can have results, they're not good for sudden infusions of capital.

Kickstarter is, though.

I have had three random targets floating around for Kickstarter for most of a year now, and I haven't been running them for various reasons, most of them having to do with doubt and fear. I need to get with the program, though, because money doesn't earn itself.

The first is a short, targeted art project. By now I am terrified of art projects because they overfund crazily and inspire a tremendous amount of work. But something aiming for $500 or so, to pay for my printer cartridges and have some profit left over to hit those August expenses, might be do-able if I give only one custom prize (top slot, one sketch commission or something) and have everything else be wallpapers, postcards, or giveaways of originals I'm doing as I experiment with my paints. (Since the reason I want the printer cartridges is so I can print sketches onto paper I can paint on, this is in keeping with the theme!).

The second would be some kind of writing project, probably to pay for a print edition. The Three Jaguars business column book is about 75% done, so that's a possibility. Also possible is getting print editions for the rest of Princes' Game or for Blood Ladders. I'd like to do print editions for Thief, too, but Cantor's still at least 30K from being done and I don't want to launch without having the product ready... but anyway. Pros on this are that I already know what I'm doing, the product isn't customized so it's mostly a pack-and-ship thing, and it would help with my backlist. Cons are that it costs more (prizes are physical objects with shipping costs; graphic designer needs to eat, etc), so it's harder to profit off of it and takes longer to run.

The third is, of course, the plush. This one is both the most enticing and the scariest, because I've never done anything like it, and frankly I don't know if it will fly. On the bright side, all the prizes are pack-and-ship, so I wouldn't have to worry about custom work... and if it funds, I'll have dragon dolls! Which is the best thing ever! And any leftovers could go in the Etsy shop if I fill out their extensive paperwork explaining that I contracted to get my design made. On the "do not pass go do not collect $200" side, I would need to have about $1700 before the Kickstarter begins to start the manufacturing process, and I don't have that capital right now. The other con is that I'd have to sell 71 of them to break even and I don't know if I see that happening. -_-

So... I dunno. I'm not used to being this gunshy, but running the last few Kickstarters while hammered by my day job was absolutely nightmarish. I still feel like there are loose ends from the last one, or things I didn't do well enough, and I'm aware that all the cameo-purchasers still need their appearances in Dreamhearth. I don't doubt I'm going to write that book, and I know them all personally so I'm not worried that they're worried that I won't deliver, but I hate things hanging over my head.

I also hate disappointing people. *rubs head, rueful*

But the money's run out, and while I'm grateful that I had the money to cover the Unexpected Extreme Hit to my account, I need to refill the well. So that means I gotta pick something and leap into the breach. As usual, I share this with y'all in the interests of disclosing what it's like to run this small business, not out of a desire to inspire pity. So long as I've got a body on this earth that can do work, I am still a going concern! But as always, I am interested in your thoughts and ideas. Many heads, better than one. :)

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Current Mood: thinking out loud

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Don't worry, I'm still writing Cantor, the sequel to Thief of Songs! This book is incrementing more slowly than I would like but I am fighting a lot of constraints, health- and time-wise. I still anticipate it being ready for an August release, but it might be late August rather than early. Have an excerpt!

A lot of people mentioned there was stuff in Thief that seemed to have been glossed over; it wasn't. It was just washed out by the first flush of love, which makes all things seem bearable. Then reality returns, and you have to grapple with all the complexities you thought would be fixed by love. This book is... fraught with stuff.

I am working on lots of other things too. Some of it mysterious...

(What is Marketer planning? Hmmmm.)

And some of it prosaic, like my abrupt decision to update the formatting on some of the older ebooks that were converted by Smashwords, like Black Blossom. (Look how nice it's coming along! Not done yet, though.)

I figure as long as I'm fixing it I'll add the extra scenes I wrote for the Kickstarter to the back. Go go second edition goodies!

Plus, pondering scheduling for a lot of other stuff, but brain not really functional for reasons too tedious to explain. So I keep going, because That's What Jaguar Would Do. (And now I have 'That's what Brian Boitano'd Do' stuck in my head. Doh.)

Anyway! Progress! Being made! Thank you for sticking around, and leaving me reviews, and sending me cute pictures on twitter, and all the other awesome ways you show your appreciation! ❤️

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Current Mood: headachy but determined

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Cat Rambo said some very blushworthy things about me yesterday in her post about what SFWA is, and isn't, and what we're up to lately.

It's worth reading for the latter. We're doing exciting things, and we have exciting plans. (I am, in fact, testing something I hope to launch for us in support of a big initiative.) But I wanted to call out specifically her comment about having been pleased to recruit me specifically because I'm a conservative writer. When she suggests that we work well together because of our sometimes opposing perspectives, I think she's entirely correct. It's not that we talk politics specifically (though unfortunately, sometimes our jobs as officers require us to)... it's that our beliefs give us oblique approaches to things, and consulting each other helps us find our own weaknesses and blind spots.

This is not a new thing for me. I have always worked in arenas that are overwhelmingly colonized by people of opposing political viewpoints (hello, Art, Academia). The knowledge that I would have to find a way to work with people who believed stuff I found strange, wrong-headed, or toxic is so old by now that I don't even think about it. But it's interesting to me that the people who are in the majority in any arena often seem to be offended at the thought that they should have to deal with people who disagree with them. At the university, I have brought up lots of professors short who were upset that I didn't think they were right. One of them even asked me what I was doing there, which was... frankly bizarre. (Broadening my mind, maybe? By grappling with ideas I don't necessarily agree with?)

Here then is my takeaway from living as a political minority in the workplace all my life: unless you're in a group devoted specifically to a political cause you agree with, you cannot expect to be protected from people who don't share your beliefs. Inevitably someone will tell me that this is an invitation to abuse and cruelty, as if there can be no disagreement without extremism. Reject this false dichotomy. People who don't share your beliefs aren't all heartless criminals who long to see you hurt. They just... don't agree with you.

From what I've seen of the polls, the U.S. is pretty evenly split from people who call themselves conservative and people who call themselves liberal. It's tempting to think that just because you're surrounded in a bubble of likeminded folk that this statistic is wrong. It's not! Embrace the diversity. Learn from people you disagree with. Confound simpler-minded people who wonder how you can possibly get along with someone on "the opposite side" without exploding into a mutual orgy of violence and intolerance. Be open to the Other.

It's a simple idea. Like most simple ideas, it's very hard to live. But I've found it worthwhile. Not often pleasant, if I am to be honest, but useful, yes. And worthwhile.

Also, go read that link. It's a good link. *nods*

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